Intermittency of passive-scalar decay: Strange eigenmodes in random shear flows

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Abstract / Description of output

The decay of the concentration of a passive scalar released in a spatially periodic shear flow with random time dependence is examined. Periodic boundary conditions are assumed, placing the problem in the strange-eigenmode regime where the concentration decay is exponential in the long-time limit. The focus is on the limit of small diffusivity kappa < 1 (large Peclet number), which is studied using a combination of asymptotic methods and numerical simulations. Two specific flows are considered: both have a sinusoidal velocity profile, but the random function of time is either (i) the amplitude of the sinusoid or (ii) its phase. The behavior of the passive scalar in each flow is very different. The decay rate (or Lyapunov exponent) lambda, in particular, which characterizes the long-time decay in almost all flow realizations, scales as kappa(2/3) in (i) and kappa(3/8) in (ii). The temporal intermittency of the scalar decay, associated with fluctuations in the speed of decay, is examined in detail. It is quantified by comparing the decay rate lambda with the decay rates gamma(p) of the ensemble-averaged pth moment of the concentration. The two flows exhibit some intermittency, with gamma(p)not equal p lambda. It is, however, much weaker for flow (i), where the gamma(p) and lambda satisfy kappa(2/3) power laws, than for flow (ii), where the gamma(p) are proportional to kappa(1/2) and are therefore asymptotically smaller than lambda. The results for flow (ii) highlight the possible difficulty in relating the behavior of the passive scalar in single flow realizations to predictions made for ensemble-averaged quantities such as concentration moments. (c) 2006 American Institute of Physics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number087108
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages12
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006

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